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I know that I can use lighting to produce realistic 3D views of my work, but I'm not sure where to begin. Can you suggest some tips for working with light sources?
In Chief Architect, you can use light sources to help produce dramatic, photo-realistic 3D views of your model. To do so effectively though, takes an understanding of the different types of light sources available in the program, as well as a bit of practice.
There are two types of light sources in Chief Architect:
For most interior lighting needs, Point lights are recommended because they are the most similar to electric light bulbs.
In addition to the two types of lights in the program, materials can be given emissivity, allowing surfaces to appear to glow with their own light. This property can be very effective when applied to a TV or projection screen.
Once a light, or an electrical light fixture has been placed in your plan, it can be edited.
Lets now take look at how adjusting some of these values affect the light in a basic 20' x 30' structure.
Here is an example of a Bermuda Wall Mounted Sconce placed from the library. This electrical light fixture has 1 light source with a Point source type.
Notice how changing the light's Intensity value affects the 3D camera view.
Now, lets place a Recessed Down Light 4 light in the ceiling and specify it to use the Spot source type. Again, this fixture only has 1 light source specified.
As this is using the Spot source type, we have the ability to adjust additional characteristics such as Tilt, Direction, and Cut Off Angles, as well as the Drop Off Rate. A Tilt Angle with a value of -90° points the light straight down and a value of 90 points it straight up, while a Direction Angle of 0° points to the right horizontally in floor plan view. A value of 0° is parallel to the horizon. The Cut Off Angle defines the angle of the cone of light and can be between 0 and 180 degrees, while the Drop Off Rate describes the rate at which the light intensity within the cone of light decreases. When the Cut Off Angle is decreased, it's often a good idea to increase the Drop Off Rate.
For more information on these properties, click on the Help button while the light or electrical fixture is open to specification.
Lets now experiment with a single electrical light fixture with multiple light sources that all use the Spot source type. Here, we will use the Basic 24 Track Light placed from the library. This electrical light fixture has 5 light sources by default, although for the purposes of this example, we will delete light sources 4 and 5. Notice, however, that light sources 1, 2, and 3 are only set to display light data for Ray Tracing. Go ahead and select the Use in Both option for all 3 light sources so we can see the different lighting effects in a standard 3D camera view. At this point, you can change the Tilt, Direction, and Cut Off Angle values to your liking, along with the Drop Off rate. Do keep in mind that the lighting heads that are part of the 3D Track Light symbol will not adjust with any changes that are made to the lighting characteristics.
When working with an electrical light fixture that has multiple light sources, you may want to check the Show Position in Camera View option for a given light source while in the specification dialog. This will display helpful markers while in a 3D Camera view. If the light source is a Spot light, a directional arrow will display as well.
Lastly, lets go ahead and modify lights that are placed without a 3D electrical light fixture associated with it. This is especially helpful if you're wanting to brighten a scene or add light to a particular area, but don't want to add an additional 3D symbol to the view. If you recall from the beginning of this article, it was mentioned that this can be done by navigating to 3D> Lighting> Add Lights and then either clicking to place a Point light or clicking-and-dragging to create a Spot light. If you notice that this tool is grayed out, you're likely in a 3D Camera or other unsupported view as this tool is only available in a 2D floor plan view.
Once a light is placed, you can open the light up to specification and modify the properties further. You may notice that multiple light sources cannot be added to a light such as this. If more light sources are needed, simply select the Add Lights tool once again and place as many lights as desired, each with their own properties. In the example below, you can see a floor plan view showing a single Point light aimed at a wall, a 3D Camera view showing the rendered results, along with the light characteristics that are used.
As a plan file becomes larger and more detailed, you will likely want to be able to manage or adjust properties of certain lights without much effort. This can be done by navigating 3D> Lighting> Adjust Lights . In the Adjust Lights dialog, you can see the properties of each electrical light fixture in a file, each added light, along with each light source. Lights and shadows can be turned ON/OFF, view options can be changed, and lights can be accessed and opened to specification if further modifications are needed.
For more information on the various properties in this dialog, click on the Help button.
One of the advanced properties of a material is emissivity, which refers to its ability to emit light. This property can be used to create a realistic image such as for a television or projection screen.